House gives Haridopolos his ‘Smart Cap’by John Kennedy | May 4th, 2011
The House gave Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, another of his ballot priorities — a proposed tough new state spending limit (CS/SJR 958).
In the latest of a series of votes divided along party lines, the House approved Haridopolos’ ‘Smart Cap’ ballot proposal 78-40, which would ask voters to limit future state spending to population growth combined with the cost of living, toughening a state revenue cap in place since 1994.
Opponents of the measure argued it will tie lawmakers’ hands into the future — making it difficult to adjust to changing economic conditions.
“Fiscally conservative doesn’t mean being fiscally irresponsible,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “This will drive Florida back 40 years.”
The measure, modeled on a ‘Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” (TABOR) limit approved by Colorado voters in 1992, and later eased because of budget problems it caused.
Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, said voters should be given a chance to limit state spending.
“All the money we’re talking about here is taxpayer money,” Dorworth said. “It’s not our money. We can restrain our growth.”
But Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said the ballot proposal was designed chiefly to drive conservative, Republican-leaning voters to the polls during the November 2012 elections.
“It’s purely a political move that’s not good for this state,” Schwartz said. “And it’s not good for future leaders. You won’t be able to hand out the $100 million in member projects you needed for the budget.”
Haridopolos, who plans to be a U.S. Senate candidate sharing the November ballot with ‘smart cap,’ praised the vote.
“This has been an issue I’ve worked on since I was first elected to the Legislature a decade ago,” Haridopolos said. “I was confident that this day would come if we were able to transform the Senate to a more fiscally conservative body, and I am proud today to have won this debate on behalf of Florida’s taxpayers.”